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Chertoff Says U.S., Companies Must Fight Cyber-Attacks

Former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the U.S. government must work more closely with companies to protect computer networks from cyber-attacks.

“If we see something coming across our network, we ought to share it as widely as possible,” Chertoff said today at “The Year Ahead: 2014,” a conference in Chicago hosted by Bloomberg LP. “If we don’t do that, we are giving the adversary an opportunity” to penetrate sensitive systems.

Increased involvement by companies is needed because “most of the networks are privately owned,” he said in an interview with Erik Schatzker of Bloomberg Television.

Chertoff, who served under President George W. Bush, said government requests for computer records from U.S. companies can be “used in a way to kind of put American companies on the defensive” because of the perception that it can be easier to do work overseas to protect privacy.

Asked about terrorist threats to the U.S., Chertoff said “low-level” incidents are likelier than another assault on the scale of the Sept. 11 attacks that killed almost 3,000 people.

Chertoff, 59, is the co-founder and managing principal of the Chertoff Group in Washington, which advises corporate and government leaders on security issues.

Before heading Homeland Security from 2005 to 2009, Chertoff was a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals. He also was a federal prosecutor.

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